Please visit our Sponsors

FAQs on Loricariids, South and Central American Suckermouth Cats: Peckoltia, Clown Plecos

Related Articles: Loricariids, OtocinclusFrom Pan-ack-ay to Pan-ack-zee, A Detailed Look at the Bizarre But Beautiful Panaque Catfishes by Neale Monks

Related Catfish FAQs: Loricariids 1, Otocinclus
Other Loricariid Genera: FAQs on: Ancistrus, Baryancistrus, Genera Farlowella, Loricaria, Sturisoma, Rhineloricaria: Twig Plecostomus, Genera Glyptoperichthys, Liposarcus, Pterygoplichthys, Sailfin Giants among the Loricariids, The Zebra Pleco, Hypancistrus zebra, Hypostomus, Peckoltia: Clown Plecostomus, Lasiancistrus, Panaque, Pseudacanthicus, Scobanancistrus, L-number catfish,
Loricariid Identification, Loricariid Behavior, Loricariid Compatibility, Loricariid Selection, Loricariid Systems, Loricariid Feeding, Loricariid Reproduction, Loricariid Disease, Catfish: Identification, Behavior, Compatibility, Selection, Systems, Feeding, Disease, Reproduction Algae Eaters


Clown Pleco substrate safety question       8/28/16
Good evening,
I've found myself in a dilemma after following the advice of a local fish supply store (with a good reputation) and purchasing a Clown Pleco for my ex-Betta tank.
<Do double check what species you actually got. The "true" Clown Plec is a Panaque species called Panaque maccus (sometimes called Panaqolus maccus).
It's a herbivore more than anything else. It isn't fussy about the substrate because it prefers to spend time on rocks and especially bogwood.
However, a lot of aquarists (and some older books) use this Clown Plec name for a Peckoltia species, Peckoltia vittata. Like all Peckoltia, this species is a micro carnivore that roots about for worms and such. This species will be more upset by the substrate if it can't dig easily.
PlanetCatfish.com has nice photos of the two species if you need help telling them apart.>
My Betta had passed away after 4 years and I hated to get rid of the mature 5 gal tank, but wasn't ready for another Betta so soon. The store convinced me Clown Plecos stayed small and would do fine in a small tank. Ha! I now
know this size tank is inadequate for him for many reasons, so I want to move him out of there before it stunts his growth.
<Understood. Both the catfish mentioned are relatively small, around 8 cm/3 inches or so in length. The Panaque species is marginally bigger perhaps, but there's not a lot in it. Anything upwards of 20 gallons is fine, and you could probably get away with a 15-gallon tank at a pinch.>
The problem is I only have one other tank option and I'm not sure the substrate will be ok for him. I've read some conflicting information online. The current 5 gal tank has a nice sandy bottom (smooth sand, not the sharp kind I've read about) with driftwood and he really seems to like it.
<Panaque species are wood-eaters, and will spend all their time, if they can, on bogwood, rasping away. They also consume vegetables like courgette/zucchini, as well as algae wafers and the odd bit of something meaty.>
My other tank is a 75 gal planted tank with large pieces of driftwood with lots of places to hide from the 2 goldfish occupants. But the substrate is Seachem's Fluorite gravel.
<Not a major problem for Panaque maccus. As noted, this catfish prefers to stay on solid surfaces, especially bogwood, and rarely comes down onto the substrate except to eat things like algae wafers put out for it.>
It doesn't seem sharp to the touch, but it's not really as smooth as other traditional gravels, so I'm worried it isn't a safe fit for the Pleco. I hope I'm wrong because otherwise I think he'd really love the tank. I'd appreciate any advice you can offer. Thank you in advance for your time!
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Clown Pleco substrate safety question       9/5/16

Good evening, Neale.
Thank you very much for the reply. It has helped ease my worries! After researching the two species you mentioned on PlanetCatfish.com, I found I do indeed have the true Panaque maccus Clown Pleco. Although I don't see my
little guy much during the day, when I do glimpse him, he's always rasping on the driftwood. And he leaves numerous piles of "wood dust" all over the sandy bottom. It still amazes me how much debris such a tiny thing can create so quickly!
<For the last 20 years I've looked after one of his bigger relatives, Panaque nigrolineatus, a truly wonderful fish. But this thing poops like it's an Olympic Sport! Absolutely standard for the genus, as you've seen, but since it's mostly wood chippings, the effect on water quality is nil.
Probably a useful soil improver too, but can be unsightly, and easily siphoned out, or "spot cleaned" with a turkey baster. Do have a read here:
Plenty of info on this really interesting group of catfishes.>
We are undergoing a renovation project (hence the reason for my delayed reply), but as soon as that is over, I will be moving him to the 75 gal tank where he will hopefully enjoy many happy years.
<Should do. Panaque are notoriously sensitive the first few weeks, and getting them feeding well is crucial. But once settled they are VERY hardy and long-lived.>
Thank you, again!
Sincerely, Jennifer
<Most welcome! Neale.>

Angelfish and small Pleco   10/21/13
I have a 75 gallon with six angelfish that are about three inches. Would it be safe for them to get one Clown Pleco for the algae on the glass?
<Ah yes; a good choice (Peckoltia sp.) for here. I might get 3-4 specimens "to do the job", and for your enjoyment>
 I do know that they need their own veggie diet. It is one of those Clown Plecos that is orange with dark stripes that only get to be about 4 inches in length. I read they have a reputation for eating driftwood. Thank you
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re Angelfish and Bristlenose Pleco     10/21/13

I just took the Clown Pleco back this morning due to people saying they love to eat driftwood which I have and want to keep.
<... eats very little; slowly>
 The only other option I can think of is the Bristlenose Pleco. Do they eat driftwood?
<To about the same extents, yes>
 and are they dangerous to angelfish?
<... no; see WWM re>
 One person on the internet said they had a Bristlenose that attached to a gourami, killed it, and buried it under a piece of driftwood. I guess it is that suction mouth that can be the problem. Thank you
<... likely the anabantid was dead already. B>

Otocinclus, L134 Peckoltia; compatibility, systems   3/25/10
Hello there,
I recently returned from a 2 week stint working out of town to find my 5.5 gallon over run with the soft green algae that Otocinclus fish are supposedly fond of. The tank was intended for another project which didn't pan out (my Australe Killifish pair was living happily in my 29 gallon awaiting transfer but couldn't compete for food in my absence and died after the first week.) I had been contemplating adding four Otos to my already cycled 29 gallon and now I'm wondering if the 5.5 would make a suitable quarantine tank or if it is too small even for the short quarantine period.
<5.5 gallons is really not much good for anything except for a Betta and/or small shrimps, and as you've observed, they are intrinsically unstable and can easily flip into problem mode. You might use it to quarantine very small fish, up to 2.5 cm/1 inch, but other than that, I'd not risk stressing community fish species in such a small tank.>
I removed the majority of the algae with a toothbrush but there is still a fair amount in the tank.
<Algae removal will reduce the problem, but you do have to research why it happened at all.
Without fail, algae comes back if conditions allow.>
There are a couple small plants (Cryptocoryne and some Alternanthera reineckii clippings just floating) and some natural wood decor which have been in the tank for 3 or 4 weeks. The tank itself has been set up for just over a month, I used water from my 29 originally which I dose with aquarium salt as a tonic about every second water change or so.
<Why use salt? The use of "tonic salt" is old school and provides no real benefits.
Is this a reasonable place to keep four Otos for a couple weeks, considering the small size and minor presence of salt?
<Possibly. But Otocinclus require somewhat cool, oxygen rich water with lots of water current. Their mortality in "Nano" tanks is depressingly high, despite their wide sale for such.>
I also wanted to ask whether my leopard frog Pleco which lives in my 29 is indeed a suitable tank mate for Otos or if I have been mislead.
<In a big enough tank with cool (24 C), fast-flowing water and ample green algae, a school of 6 or more Otocinclus affinis/vittatus should coexist with your L134 Peckoltia sp. catfish. Peckoltia spp. feed mostly on the bottom and consume bloodworms and soft vegetables, while Otocinclus graze almost exclusively on green algae from plant leaves. So there shouldn't be much overlap. But L134 prefers warmer water than Otocinclus, so they aren't an obvious or ideal combination. Almost all problems with Otocinclus come down to keeping them too warm, without enough oxygen, or without enough green algae. I doubt 50% of the specimens sold last even 6 months.>
Your time and advice is greatly appreciated.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Clown Pleco Skin Patchy-ness... medication poisoning, reading   10/11/08
Well, to start I have 9 Zebra Danios, 10 Neon Tetra's, 6 Harlequins, 2 Cory's, a rather peaceful Siamese Fighter, and a Clown Pleco. My tank was recently infected with the Whitespot disease which killed off all 6 or my Bleeding Hearts, my other Clown Pleco, a male and female Dwarf Gourami's (I still have 1 other female Dwarf Gourami but I suspect she won't make it) and all 7 of my Emperor Tetra's. (The Emperor's where the ones to bring it into the tank.) We used Exit
<www.eshalabs.eu/pages_eu/product_engels.html?zoom=2&download=1 - >
for the Whitespot and the treatment worked on the rest that didn't die but its started to come back on the Neon's and Siamese (who is dubbed Jackie Chan ^_^).
<Good name>
We're treating the Ick again
<I would be reading on WWM re... at least elevating temp. to bolster a cure here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwichremedyyes.htm
and the linked files above>
but my main problem at the moment is my Clown Pleco. He's chocolate brown with kind-of yellow spots and stripes.. So far he hasn't been affected at all by the Ick but I've noticed he's gotten some lighter patches on his skin.
<Is affected... more by the eSHa product likely...>
They seem to be crescent shape and go down his back (though this is in a regular pattern). He's also gone very quiet (whereas before he was quite active) and isn't eating as much. He's barely moved at all day.
<Being poisoned... have you measured any ammonia, nitrite...?>
I did a water test and the results came back fine aside from the pH which showed between 5-6.
<Dangerously low... likely not well buffered either... Do you know much re alkalinity AND pH? Please see WWM re, and possibly at least mix in some source water with appreciable hardness>
I don't know if there is something wrong with the Pleco but I'm quite fond of him and am not keen on losing any more fish. ^_^;
<Then... I'd be reading... Stat>
Any help would be much appreciated.
Jasmine Law
<Read. Bob Fenner>
Re: Clown Pleco Skin Patchy-ness, Ich    10/12/08

Many thanks for your help, it is greatly appreciated. I read on your site about raising the temperature to kill the Ick, and I've now raised it to 80 F however I am concerned about raising the temperature to the level required to kill off all stages of Ick as I know some of the fish I have, such as the Danios, tend to prefer cooler temperatures.
<Ah, yes>
Would it be ok, bearing in mind the different species I have, to raise the temperature?
<Yes... better by far than to suffer, perhaps perish from the Ich itself... or more medicine exposure. If they were mine, I'd go ahead and raise the temperature to 83-84 F.. This is not too high for Danios in the short term>
What temperature do you consider tolerable for the different fish in the tank?
<For all the species you list (below) in your original email, this temporary elevation will be fine... Do take care in a couple weeks however to lower it slowly... no more than a degree per day or so>
I've done another water change. And another water test. The results came back as:
GH - 180
KH - 180
PH - 7.0
Nitrites CNO2 - 0
Nitrates - 20
<Mmm, the Nitrates are borderline high... going forward I would read re such on WWM:
and the linked FAQs file above... and do what you can to reduce this level>
Also, in the past week I have done two 50% water changes (leaving a few days between each change) and another 25% earlier today.
I checked the Clown Pleco and I couldn't spy any patches on him. I hope this is an improvement. Though he is still quiet and not moving as much.
Thanks again for your help.
Jasmine Law
<Bob Fenner>

Floating Pleco beh.   2/2/06 Hi Bob, <Kat> Hope all is well with you and your finned friends. <Thanks> I have a 65 gallon FW.  Recently sized up from a 55.  A very long time ago when I was having a slight algae problem I bought a clown Pleco, not real fond of "common plecs".  Well he sure is cute but a waste of money.  Algae eater my fanny!!!  My early ignorance. <Mine continues unabated> About 3 months ago I was getting the good old red bacteria, Cyanobacteria I have since discovered, and bought a high fin spotted Plec. <Most animals don't eat much/any Cyano>    If I don't feed my high fin he will clean the rocks but of course he doesn't touch the plants nor do the Mollies, or the Gold Gouramis.  So about every third day I break up an algae wafer and drop it around the tank. <Good> Now here is what I find VERY interesting and hysterically funny.  The clown Plec will latch onto a piece of food, any piece of food and be fine.   However the high fin spotted latches on to any type of food and just floats away.  He will allow himself to float about half way up the tank then drops what he has and looks for something else. <Neat> Why in the Sam Hill does one float and the other not?   <Am tempted to go for the Monty Python "Witch Test" hypothesis here...>   When the high fin starts floating some of the gouramis just stop and look at him, like what in God's name are you doing? <Enjoying him/herself> FYI this is what I have. 65 gallon, Emperor 400, Penguin 330 and two powerheads, I know lots of current but all are fine. 6 Clown loaches, after I accidentally boiled my beautiful Synos.  Don't ask or you can.  The guys at the LFS laughed until they cried.  ( I am obsessive about water changes etc) 7 gold gouramis.  All about 3 inches. 6 mollies, three babies, two adult females, one adult male.  (One of the adult females I have had for two years and I can tell she is just about ready to die of old age, she was one of my original fish, and when she goes so will the rest of the Mollies back to the fish store. Maybe They are more mean than the Gouramis LOLOLOL, and the guys at the LFS were worried about the Mollies, RIGHT) 6 various Cory cats, all original, and one I saved from being flushed. 1 spotted Raphael, which I rarely see, unless I sneak in there at night with my tiny flashlight. Ok so now I am writing and can't stop. I know there are some snails or something to get rid of the Cyanobacteria, and I have Phos ban in my filter, but snails won't take care of the Cyano on the plants right? <Correct> Anyway really want to know about the floating Pleco, if there is an answer. Have a good one, Kat <Just a floater... in a good way. Have thought re the "reasonableness" of animal actions? Why do dolphins et al. cetaceans jump out of the water? Obviously because they can... wouldn't you? Bob Fenner, who definitely would>

Bristle Nose Pleco versus Golden Clown Pleco Of the Bristle Nose Pleco or a Golden Clown Pleco,  <There are actually quite a few of the former and at least two species of the latter. Likely you have seen our scant presentation on Loricariids: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/loricariids.htm> 1. Which would be better at cleaning algae off the sides of the tank? <Probably one of the Bristlenose Plecos. Please look on Fishbase.org for some idea of which fishes this appellation applies> 2. Which one would be better at leaving the plants alone? <The Golden Clowns or some of the smaller species of Bristlenoses> 3. Which one is most friendly? I have a community tank with two clown loaches and two Corydoras Julies and will be getting four Otos. (the other fish are some guppies, mollies, a tetra and a red swordtail. <Ahh, the Goldens.> Thank you.  <You are welcome my friend. Bob Fenner>

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: